NEIL SLEVIN - POEMS
Neil Slevin is a 26 year-old writer from the West of Ireland.
An English teacher, he has returned to university to complete an M.A. in Writing at N.U.I. Galway and to pursue a writing-based career.
Neil writes for Sin (N.U.I. Galway's student newspaper), editing its entertainment section and culture column, Resonate, and as Events Reporter for the Institute for Lifecourse and Society.
Neil’s poetry has been published by The Galway Review and numerous international journals.
The Gaelic Chieftain
I am the starlit horseman warring the fallen night:
With the raining light of stars my shadow’s flecked,
stars that stream like trickling tears
from the eyes of a crying sky:
tears that streak the face of night
in grief for what’s long lost –
what I alone have won, I who will not die.
Draped in ebony-black
I stand alone against your darkness,
winds that shriek the curlew’s call;
I know they howl to me of death
but to them I must not yield,
to them I will not fall.
I who ride through time and space,
my horse’s route no longer stone-blocked road
nor slow-rising hillside,
I, who all must pass and face
to know my honour
and my pride.
Not even when this battle ends,
when daylight reigns and peacetime calls
will I rest, I will outlive the dawn:
I wait for it with sword’s embrace,
my eternal wrath guarding the West.
My war rages on.
The lobster’s guarding the phone again;
that’s the reason I haven’t called you.
He’s there, watching me with the reproach of my father
whenever I’d done something parents never want their children to do
even when there’s no harm in doing it,
like using the word ‘cops’ repeatedly to describe policemen
(as if it were some sort of curse)
because it was all I’d ever heard them described as
on my diet of American television.
But I digress.
The phone is there too,
you at the other end of a line
that traces its way from me to you. You
most likely not even wanting me to call
but there all-the-same,
waiting for life’s next moment
to set that beautiful ball of uncertainty
rolling into some unknown valley
where we will push it up the hills we find, Sisyphus-like,
before letting it fall,
never crossing the path of its glorious descent
but embracing its fall because it is falling,
because we have been falling our whole lives,
into life, out of love, toward each other;
because falling is part of the fun.
But I’ve already fallen:
the lobster cannot rescue me
from this mire of delight I’ve been lost in
since that day we first met.
Hide and Seek
You watch it play hide and seek
like a playground’s child
hidden behind clouds yet peeping out
(though curiosity kills most cats)
as it tries to beat the count of each falling drop –
last breath its first, its only pulse –
of the shower’s symphony that rises, rises
then reaches its crescendo.
From the conductor’s wand,
a single ray trickles earthward,
molten gold spelling out
I will shine again.
Though you’re not here
I say your name
with the softness
I’d say I love you,
whether there’s another
to hear the sound
or only silence to diffuse it
into the distance we share;
while the woods listen
and the trees rise,
their branches nodding
in the gentle breeze
as if to show
they understand, they know
that the one they shelter
despite the summer’s light
trickling through their leaves
like afterthoughts of liquid gold
to warm him in your shadow.
I’ve never seen your face undressed,
you stripped of the layers between us
built up by time and space;
but I have caught those glimpses,
the stardust you let fall to Earth,
pennies drizzled by astral hands
to ignite my homeless heart and soul,
lull my nomad’s mind with love.
YUAN CHANGMING - POEMS
Yuan Changming, 9-time Pushcart nominee and author of 7 chapbooks (including Wordscaping ), grew up in rural China and published monographs on translation before immigrating to Canada. With a PhD in English from the U of Saskatchewan, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry (2009,12,14), BestNewPoemsOnline, Poetry in Voice, Threepenny Review and 1179 others across 38 countries.
Cheese, Vancouver in April
Don’t even think of
Trying to pretend, but
Just show your most natural
Charm and grace; stand straight
Amidst the greening maple trees
Hold all the blooming cherry flowers
Closer to your heart; face towards
The bluest sky above the pacific
Move a bit more forward
Before the grouse mountain
Shake off the rain drops of last long winter
On your hair, and now
Say cheese, you vancouver in april
On the Freeway
Driving through a forest
I saw a deer
Standing alone still
Like what I wish to watch:
Every human is so busy
I Think; Therefore, I Am
But of course being what I am
Does not always require thinking
Being what I am is actually sufficient
Or requires nothing but eating, drinking
Fucking, farting, pissing, pooing and sleeping
Often, being what I am doesn’t even require
Feeling, besides making money by selling
All that I have and/or I am. Indeed
Being what I am requires neither thinking
Nor feeling, now except perhaps writing
I write; therefore, I am
Though I am not what I think
With your fingers, hands
And even arms cut off
You have scars all over
Your body, which first
You used to protest against all human pain
And injury in deafening silence, then
Your mouths became eyes staring still
At each evil knife, each inhuman act
Now you are looking forward, and beyond
Without a wink, without a tear drop
Let us take all the long time we need
To wake up from our overdue dreams
Get out of the bed, and stretch our
Limbs as far as possible for a new morning
Let us take all the long time we need
To listen to the first song of the birds
Watch the rise of this summer sun, feel
The breeze combing each tree with tenderness
Let us take all the long time we need
To enjoy being together with our beloved
Exchange a smile so that they can stay with
Us just a few seconds or even minutes longer
Yes, let’s take all the long time we need
To drink this tea, to chat about this weather
To look back at the road we have travelled along
To think, to cry, and to die in lingering twilight
You’re neither the mystic
Nor the common
As you are believed to be
In the east or the west
Rather, you are the soul of a fellow
Human, perching on the treetop
Speechless, as if meditating over
Life, as if recalling your prayers
MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON - POEMS
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, publisher, photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 885 small press magazines, in 27 different countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites. He has 89 poetry videos on YouTube. He is also the publisher of Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762
I Regret Grinder, but, No Remorse
I have no regret, no grinder of remorse, nor memory of the dental chair.
I have no feeler of sins lost in sand dust with golden teeth, diamond over lay of lies.
Do not dance, play checkers, between the lines of memory-black/white.
I am a sinner wild with elbow muscle, flex right to left.
Dental floss is my Jesus, purple robe, violent-victim.
The cheeks of God whisper fools of toy tot decay, hanger on a cross-victim.
I was an outcast of hell with flames hanging from my behind.
What age of flowers is a whisper into the colors, fool enamel solid white.
I wild elbows flex from right to left, dental floss violent-victim.
I am owner of the cheeks of sunken bones.
What left is decay open space, mouth, tongue, cavities.
Christ never liked the sound of a drill, only aging of flowers, whispers from toy toots.
Lost in the blur of the blue heron I toss my gambling cards, fold.
Back to the farm fields forever and the sounds of wheat in the wind.
Jesus is the stop point, remorse, joy, where the sounds end.
I am an abstract artist, setting black outline in a dental chair,
false teeth pending white, waiting for second coming.
I am the cut-off ends of yellow lemon,
end cuts off green lime skin and juice
squeezed, mixed with Pure Vitamin crystals
heavy-duty vitamin C, leads me to Christ.
I hang my survival on orange and lime trees.
I cut you with Chicago cutlery knives.
6 ounces of Barton vodka brand a twist of above,
between this night, my thighs, my thoughts
morning is the master of exchanges of fluids myself or others.
Life is a single squeeze both ends of both fruits.
Jerk me hands free top end of a Ball Jar a hinge of plastic.
Bring me to the end of the straw, up/down over again
mix it/mix me to the end of hell.
Old Men Walk Funny
Old men walk funny with shadows eating at their heels.
Pediatric walkers, prostate exams, bend over, and then mostly die.
They grow poor, leave their grocery list at home, and forget their bank account numbers,
dwell whether they wear dentures, uppers or lowers; did they put their underwear on.
They cannot remember where they put their glasses, did they drop their memory on route to some place.
They package old bones, dry dreams; testicles empty, and giggle choking on past sexual fantasies.
Mogen David madness accesses 100 BC concord wine, all remaining parts sit down-
waves go through their brain as if broken cylinders float undefined travelers.
At night, they scream in silent dreams no one else hears, they are flapping of monarch butterfly wings.
Old men walk funny to the barbershop with gray hair, no hair; sagging pants to physical therapy.
They pray for sunflowers above their graves, a plot that bears their name.
They purchase their plots, pennies on a dollar, beggar's price a deceased wife.
Proverb: in the end, everything that is long at one time is now passive, cut short.
Ignore those old moonshiners that walk funny, "they aren't hurting anyone anymore."
Cut Through Thickness (V2)
I angle at your youth and cross my eyes to see reality of time passed.
I cut through thickness of you retina, thin splinters, raw oak from the North,
Cypress trees, bending, rebel in Southern ways.
My present and past tenses are confused with feelings.
I cross the border of knowing you and forced to retreat.
I am seasoning of salt, pepper, and sugar in your veins.
I am daddy tenderness long time gone memories, graveyard, and suppressed images.
I squeeze scars, raw pimples, Clearasil, alcohol masking, blend in hate cosmetics.
Jesus is a forgiving hallo symbol hanging over a cross.
I hang alligator skins on the shells of Saturn and Apollo.
I lift the Vertical Assembly Building over a trailer sky.
I launch pad of love, a missile, old time arrow direct to hearts.
Every time I feel like crying, Bob Dylan, ages, angels with a handful of tears.
EATON JACKSON - POEMS
I am a Jamaican aspiring poet, the product of a country which has a rich oral history of storytelling. I have been listening all my life, and now I feel confident enough to try at telling my little made-up stories too. In so doing, I would like to hold the faces around the campfire spellbound; the way mine was completely captured, listening to these far away wonders, dramas and melodramas. So, I hope that these lines can take the reader to a somewhere place.
My pain is a million poems
told in a million languages,
My pain sears the same,
with a million variation to the theme,
trying their all to anaesthetized itself,
My pain is the present and
a past that is stuck
in the pathway of healing,
My pain is insufficient pixel
a grainy, hazy future,
My pain is more crumpled paper,
calligraphy of an inane mind,
My pain is the reiteration of pain
which is a cursory glanced at
to be flipped over to the cartoons,
My pain digs a deep hole in a bid to be
pitch, black melancholy,
My pain gets stuck down there, my pain cries out
a monotonous echo.
The poverty of our love is monumental its footing is buried deep in emptiness. someone
goes to the open window, curses the vacuum again another variation to the
of the misrepresented facts
arms around the apparitions of each other, swearing to new lines that rhymes, then
it over future deeper hurt as we are about to sink deeper into each other’s
unresolved concept, that is still drilling between the granite for oil. Which upon its
charity and compassion with flow unimpeded,
‘ what of etiquette, civility, free gestures, right? someone goes to the open window and
‘too poor right now’, the soliloquy snaps back, ‘costly things: tenderness and affection’.
so we rightly had to squeeze down tighter on the coins in our pockets
because if love
is a fairground the simple trick of tossing a coin in the ring, is a trick we are glad not to
but the scars in our deformed kiss will hopefully be straightened out as we extend our rig,
as we send down
is a developing work a work in progress
a self-indulgent act on your part,
being stenciled by a still hand after
the imaged held steadfastly to by a perfectionist mind,
these brush stroke of yours without messing up the floor
the denied caricature,
your hero is a hewed justification
from a river’s rock,
your conviction, a fine brush moving deftly
over the erased but still imprinted effigy,
until your square-jaw hero
like a ‘scratch-and-win’ card,
your hero is a customized
whose piercing silence like a scalpel
intent on piercing the balloon that
cocoons your hero,
your hero is a job unto itself,
running faucet a running argument between
paint, water and yourself,
because to a roomful of doubters,
your stand, your testament
a prerogative beyond critique…
Beyond the mirage, in the mirage still, balance on tip-toes,
to see someone, someone beautiful
to look, an attempt at breathing for a rose
because when it shows all of it shows,
That heaven, hell, nowhere somewhere hangs in suspension
and for a rose this ad-hoc philosophy rolls, a dice on the table top
not to explain, but to continue the exercise: IN OUT IN OUT
life’s meaning, someone beautiful when suppose,
Beyond shadowy oasis, beyond...up on tip toes
when blood for coffee, plasma-stained utensils, when
for the faintest feeling of someone beautiful, a rose
a rose to worry about, held under your nose,
among these breathing landmines, bullet riddled buildings, yellow-taped-off -life,
When the Ferris Wheel slows,
slow slow to grab a hold, when beauty suppose,
a rose, beauty imagined
something out there
this muscular spasm, on tip-toes
up on tip toes.
ALLISON GRAYHURST - POEMS
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 850 poems published in over 375 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, six collections, eight chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Blue light around your mouth,
cascading on covers,
paralyzing your voice,
pulling your soul
into a choice of “which destiny?”
Bread drops into your mouth,
unable to open or close.
You see this light
without seeing the light.
You dive into the doorway,
pulling free, taking steps.
You draw breath.
You draw the last straw.
I am a definition
with many loop-holes
octopus arm holes,
and then some.
I speak of a pavilion
where my ancestors bred
and murder was released -
an option, like a second chance,
murder as affirmation.
I was a definition,
sharp and solid, marvelous as
a thunderstorm - rage, ripple into a cave
into base-neck movement,
simple one-focus activity.
I lack a definition
under banners, barely audible
excuses to not take up the sword,
battle the lies told
as traditional fables.
I swing from pillar to post
navigating ceiling heights
and floor splinters when I land
niching out obedience
a changeling definition.
Seal me up
and wash the river.
Sunny days to sing
“It is over, over!”
alive but dying
cliffs and cupboards
to the ruthless Earth,
plastic in the nest
I am hungry
I am whole
to make something immortal,
encountering the dark part
of God’s loins - orgasmic
reckoning, not afraid to make faces,
stick out your tongue,
not denying the chaos of pain -
and brighter burns,
where are you?
Snow ploughs and stone,
no more copying, but
diving, owning the
pathway yet to be made
clear, owning the receptive
flowing-in of grace. Old grooves
removed. The bird knows this
and shouts its song.
Too damaged to be renewed
hybrids of birds
Was there anything of myself in
that greenhouse, the end-gone
and a warm kiss ensuing?
Was it purgatory – to sense love,
give all for love and find the bottom
For nothing that I fell, that I gave twice
what I was capable of, thought of beauty in
trivial things, had a pool of joy to soak my innocence in.
The fish is dead, bloated with shadows - from where
the shape came from, I cannot understand. I do not
understand love or God or what I believed.
It was reflection, undisciplined over-the-top harming the heart
instead of fortifying it. In this world
of hooded Christs and tornados,
the predator wins and solitude is the only savior.
It cannot hold purity. It sometimes dances,
is sensual and thrives on owning
what is perpetually lacking.
I seep into corners
flat and blending for a chance
to call faith a choice. Shadows
are not evil but ambiguous,
a vague scent of putrid uncertainty.
Themes of children’s horns
and the penetrating air. Going off ground
into the softness of a dream, supplanted by the
ethereal plane and growing
a strange set of limbs to
accommodate such relaxed pressure.
Solitude sings, bird are around me, up trees,
paddling through the condensed atmosphere.
Explore, I forgot the beauty
in discovery, a chance to mutilate
cynicism with a single blow. I blow
wild peppers out of my hands,
touch heads with the shy sparrow.
There is a horse, chestnut copper.
I rub the dust from her coat. I am everything
while looking into her large left eye -
a child in tune, exhilarated, heart-rate
galloping, catching its rhythm from her swaying forelock.
The sound like a star being transformed or two moons
colliding - I am taken on the path,
inches from the cliff - moving too fast to
be afraid, moving like fine sand through a sieve,
piling below, building a mythic mountain from
gravity, from quicksand-joy
GARETH CULSHAW - POEMS
Gareth is an aspiring poet who has been published in various magazines. He resides in N Wales. He enjoys walking, writing, watching sport and being with his dogs.
I would place them one by one on a stump
where they waited like a swimmer on a
diving board, ready to split from life.
the logs were scattered in an awkward pile
listening to the splintering of bone near by.
I heaved up the axe and tapped the log
on the head as a father to son sort of tap.
before creating a line to fall back through.
slicing the sky in two then letting it drop
as if I am releasing my self from the board.
a dip of the knees and 'WHACK!' the log
would grip the axe and hold it tight, not
wanting anymore. I kicked it to release, the
threads creaking with a crackling wood sound
on a fire, before a half roll like a sliced apple.
We had just got out of the teenage tunnel
seeing new light up ahead.
Our bodies changing, so our minds.
Bent forward, elbow tight, feet firm
eyeball solid, as if glass.
acute or obtuse, angles were calculated
Striking one to nudge another, or blast or
tap, whatever you needed. Sometimes a shave
to slightly roll for the fish catch pocket.
Numbers added up on the board. It was
educational, allowing us to view the
rest of our life as we looked at the table.
Everything mapped out like the sea
treasure hidden, just needing to be found:
stormy weather and rough currents
taking us to places we couldn't get out
of. We did our best to work things through
but snooker is a life game, getting easier as
we sail along the years.
I always remembered him as the mortar man
On occasion he would come out, puff a ciggie
The big wheel turned sand and lime until it
Became a cake mix, water would fill from a hose
Splashing us in the eyes then we’d rub and rub
Until a burn would build up, an itchy burn
He would sit there on his sofa, a sandy sofa
One you could pat and see haze fill the room
A daily mirror rolled up, coffee stained mug
Bricks in a corner, broken bricks that is,
They would be thrown into the mixer to clean
any scum and crust that’s built up.
We would press dried mortar between our fingers
Feeling the grainy bits as if it’s our own bones
Fading away. Pushing the wheelbarrow in coffin
Heavy steel toecaps, the mortar man would
Watch us, puffing a rollie, watching the seagulls fly
Over and us, walking away.
DONAL MAHONEY - POEMS
Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Guwahatian Magazine (India), The Galway Review (Ireland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), The Osprey Review (Wales), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other magazines. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs
(Photo: Carol Bales)
After Listening to World News Tonight
When the next emperor dies
and arrives in Hades
there will be great applause
from the other emperors who
arrived there before him.
They will drop pitchforks,
kneel in bonfire and bow
to their newest colleague,
the one for whom Satan
now rises and offers
his throne so the new man
can reign in glory as
Emperor of Hades until
someone more evil arrives,
someone whose glee for war
harmed even more people,
people with little to lose
except for their lives.
Funeral for the Last Parent
They were never one
yet they had five,
adults themselves now,
bowling pins today
upright in the front pew,
after all these years
why the two
were never one.
It's not a story
the two would tell
even if they could.
They were galaxies apart.
They had no answer
yet they still had five,
adults themselves now
who can celebrate
they're here at all,
bowling pins today
upright in the front pew.
No need to wonder why
the two who loved them
were never one.
It's not a story
the two would tell
even if they could.
They're galaxies away.
Home Invasion Encore
This time Wilma
is ready for the bastards
jimmying her front door,
coming back for more.
The first time she was asleep,
the bedroom light on,
the Bible open at her side
to John, Chapter 6,
"Do this in remembrance of me."
Wilma's lying on the couch
with the lights out,
the rosary in one hand,
her late husband's pistol
cocked in the other.
Jack taught her how to use it
when she was a bride
and tonight she will pray
for the men now
coming through the door
and then she will use it
in remembrance of Jack
and call the police.
With all the commotion,
she'll probably miss Mass
but it's a weekday,
no sin involved.
Dying at Midnight
Two big attendants
in white coats are here
to remove my remains.
My son called the mortuary
after Murphy said I was gone.
The doctor, a good neighbor,
came over at midnight, found
no pulse and made it official.
I could have saved him the trip.
I knew I was gone.
My wife's in the kitchen
crying with my daughter
in a festival of Kleenex.
I told her I was sick
but she didn't believe me.
She thought I was faking it
so I wouldn't have to go
to her mother's for dinner.
I don't like lamb but
her mother's from Greece.
Lamb shanks are always
piled on the table.
Stuffed grape leaves I like
and she'll make them for
Christmas provided I start
begging at Thanksgiving.
Every Easter, however,
it's another fat leg of lamb,
marbled with varicosities
and sauced with phlebitis.
Right now I'm wondering
who'll win the argument
between the two angels
facing off in the mirror
on top of the dresser.
The winner gets my soul
which is near the ceiling,
a flying saucer spinning
out of control.
I want the angel
in the white tunic
to take it in his backpack.
The other guy in gray
looks like Peter Lorre
except for the horns.
Horns Over Hooves
You meet all kinds of women in pubs,
women far different than women
you meet in church on Sunday
when you're in a pew with your wife
which is why I was surprised to hear
this beautiful woman two stools over
ask me if I believed in angels
before I had ordered a drink.
Well, as a matter of fact, I do,
I said, happy to get the small stuff
out of the way before we got down
to business, whatever that might be.
What kind of angels do you believe in,
she smiled and asked, sipping a Guinness.
Well, I believe in seraphim, cherubim,
principals, thrones, dominations, all
the different choirs of angels
listed in the Bible I studied in school.
What about guardian angels, she asked.
Do you believe you have one?
Indeed I do believe I have one, I said,
although I saw no reason why guardian angels
couldn't be women if angels had genders
which as pure spirits they don't have.
And what does your guardian angel do,
she inquired, getting rather personal.
Well, I said, my guardian angel is busy
from the moment I get up at dawn
till I fall back in the sack at night
because Satan or one of his minions
is always trying to worm his way
into my mind, memory or imagination
trying to get me to do things
forbidden by the Ten Commandments.
For example, whenever I see a beautiful woman,
Satan always says I should introduce myself
and I always ask my guardian angel if I should
and he always asks what my wife would say
and I always ask if I have to tell her
and he always says I should keep walking
while he does what guardian angels do
and knocks Satan horns over hooves
back into Hades, something he does for me
several times a day, especially when
I stop at this train station pub for
root beer on ice when my train is late
and a beautiful woman two stools over
smiles and asks if I believe in angels.
An interesting site to check out: